No one can argue with the numbers when it comes to holiday giving. If you’re helping run a non-profit, you know that people not only feel more generous during the holidays, they plan to be more generous. By the time Thanksgiving approaches, your kids’ wish lists aren’t the only gifts you’re thinking about. You want your organization to be a line on people’s budgets. Holiday fundraising season is a perfect time to build sincere (and jolly!) connections with your organization, celebrate friendships, and take in a bulk of your year’s budget. Plus, holiday fundraiser marketing can be tons of fun. Here are some fabulous pointers for making the merry most of your fundraising season this year.
Best Kept Secrets: Holiday Fundraiser Marketing
Okay, this one is no secret. But really, can you say it too many times? No one needs to tell you to have holiday giving goals, and that planning these out in advance saves you, your board, and all your admins a lot of headache and heartache. You also likely already know that you need to identify your target relationships and constituencies to optimize your marketing plan. From small givers to big donors, subscribers to walk-ins, know what you want from them, and have goals for how it will all add up come January.
Make a “giving map”
Put yourself in each of your constituencies’ shoes. For each target group, create a little diagram or “map” of how they might give. From first contact to receiving a check or online payment, what are all the points of possible contact they may have with you, and do they lead to a gift?
For example, a new donor could move from an email invitation to a special event, to a mail-in donation, to a thank you card. A regular large contributor could move from a personal letter to a phone call with the CEO, to a visit to your giving page, to a thank you visit. Ask yourself:
- Do each of these steps contain a personal, clear, and compelling call to action?
- Am I assisting donors/prospects as much as possible to take the next logical step? Or do they have to work to figure it out?
- Are my direct mail materials attractive, fresh, consistently branded, and as high quality as we can afford?
- Are my phone answering systems, donation page, website, collections, and pledge tracking all working properly and easy to navigate?
Look at all these points from the perspective of a newcomer who’s unfamiliar with your operations, as well as from a long-time friend who you’d like to newly impress. Also view each element from the perspective of a technologically savvy person, as well as from the perspective of someone who prefers more classic methods of contact and giving.
Ask for pro bono services
If all this sounds a little overwhelming, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s not like you don’t already have experience at it! If you’re a non-profit, you survive and thrive on the dedication of volunteers. But before the holidays, it’s major house-cleaning time. This might mean literally—getting your offices and other facilities in tip-top shape—but generally, donations will come either through special events or through outreach. This means that you need help optimizing every nook and cranny of those places and spaces in which potential donors will come in contact.
Use your “giving map” to comb through and find areas that need improvement, and then put professional (note: professional!) volunteers on the job. Make sure all your points of contact are functioning, easy to use, and, if appropriate, have some holiday flair. Potential donors can be turned away by websites, materials, facilities, and systems that seem thrown together, funky to navigate, or otherwise inhospitable.
How do I market a holiday fundraiser?
A successful holiday fundraiser is a marketing priority. It includes: 1. Working from a realistic budget and giving goals; 2. Using giving maps to plan points of donor contact; 3. Making improvements to on-site and web presence; 4. Social media and email targeting to gain new donors; 5. Advice from sister organizations.
Optimize your site for mobile
This one is simple but important. And again, don’t be afraid to get some pro bono help to make it happen. Google now prioritizes websites that are mobile-friendly in Google searches, so making every page on your site mobile-functional as well as mobile-attractive isn’t just about reaching busy Boomers and Millennials. It’s about your SEO, too.
Reach out to future fans
Target your social media, emails, and event invitations to people who are your biggest fans—even if they don’t know it yet. Holidays are a great time to bring new prospects into the family. Identify your most compelling message and your top 2-3 most compelling achievements as an organization. As you identify new groups to reach out to, ask yourself who would be most attracted to this vision and to supporting these achievements. Sister organizations with similar causes may be willing to help you out here—in identifying new mailing lists, for example.
One great way to practically reach out to prospects is by encouraging your current fans to reach out within their own circles, who often are concerned with similar interests. You might do this through compelling and shareable social media posts, or by extending certain event invitations to a “plus one,” a “plus two,” or to whole communities.
Do something just for fun
Not every holiday event and outreach need to lead to a direct ask. Make sure you make time for real relationship building, fun, and person-to-person connections. Better relationships lead to donations, but a donation doesn’t always need to be your end goal. Non-profits are all about people reaching out to help other people. There will always be something attractive and appealing about a non-profit that stays in touch with its family feel and grassroots origins. Think about a Thanksgiving feast with family-friendly games, or a wine and cheese party with a goofy gift exchange. Or how about wassail and carol singing in the office? In all your strategizing, don’t lose the spirit of the season!
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